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EXPULSION OF THE AFGHANS       329
difficulty, as owing to an earthquake its walls had fallen
down. But the brave garrison contrived to intercept a
body of troops marching with a convoy from Aleppo, and
as assaults failed the siege was temporarily raised in
September 1724. In the summer of the following year a
Turkish army seventy thousand strong again appeared on
the scene. The defence was heroic, the Persians losing
thirty thousand men and the Turks twenty thousand, but
the besiegers at length gained possession of almost the
whole city. Ultimately terms were arranged by which
the Tabrizis marched out with their families and property,
leaving their deserted abodes to the victors. Had the
citizens of Isfahan displayed a tithe of the courage shown
by the Tabriziswho are of Turkish rather than of
Persian stockthe invasion of Mahmud would un-
doubtedly have ended in failure.
The Turks subsequently rounded off their conquests
so that the whole of western Persia was in their hands.
The Accession of Ashraf> A.H. 1137 (1725).Ashraf
was of a different calibre from Mahmud, and in many
ways resembled his uncle, Mir Vais. He enjoyed great
prestige among his fellow-tribesmen, whose moral was
restored by his accession to the throne. His first act was
to kill the too capable Aman Ulla and other powerful
chiefs, whose fortunes he confiscated. To conciliate the
Persians he played the part of a generous monarch,
anxious to atone for the misdeeds of his predecessor. In
pursuance of this policy the mother of Mahmud was
obliged, as an act of atonement, to pass a night in the
Royal Square close to the corpses of the Safavi princes,
which were then buried with much pomp in the sacred
shrine of Kum. To complete the playing of his part,
Ashraf begged Husayn to resume die crown, and only
after repeated requests by the fallen Safavi monarch did
he place the symbol of royalty on his own head.
During the reign of Mahmud, Ashraf had treacher-
ously opened negotiations with Tahmasp. He now
attempted to lure him into his power, and had almost
succeeded when the Prince was secretly warned and
saved himself by flight Ashraf used this as a pretext to